Can we feel abstinence syndrome after suddenly stopping cannabis

Can we feel abstinence syndrome after suddenly stopping cannabis?

According to numbers based on samples of confiscated cannabis, the strength of the marijuana has constantly increased for the last decades

Some people who use medical or recreational cannabis can develop withdrawal symptoms once they quit consuming it. Although it is not something that happens frequently, in some people it can happen. The human brain is very complex and sometimes it becomes our worst enemy.

What is the placebo effect? It is the physical perception of symptoms that we do not actually experience but our brain convinces us that it does. I have seen a man with red eyes and dying of laughter after smoking a joint of a male cannabis plant. When I explained him that the male flowers had no psychoactive effect, he never felt the same sensation again after smoking male flowers. In fact, he stopped doing it.

The conviction that male flowers produced psychoactive effects was the placebo of this man. In the same way, many people believe that stopping cannabis use leads to adverse effects that they recognize as the withdrawal syndrome.

But it is also true that on rare occasions and always in people who abuse cannabis, abstinence produces unpleasant symptoms. But it is necessary to explain that even in the most obdurate abusers, the negative effects of the sudden withdrawal of cannabis use does not produce, by far, the terrible syndromes of opioid substances such as heroin, morphine or methadone. Or even the withdrawal syndrome of drugs that doctors prescribe on a daily basis such as benzodiazepines.

There are several misconceptions about whether cannabis consumers can become addicted to it. In fact, it is possible to feel dependent, and in some cases even addicted to cannabis after much time of regular consumption and in big quantities.

About 300,000 people start a treatment to fight cannabis disorders in the U.S. each year. According to a 2012 research, about 30% of those persons who consumed cannabis everyday had some kind of cannabis disorder in 2013. But, as we said, the difference between using a abusing is relevant.

We will explain how and why some people develop the symptoms and others don’t, and also the ways to treat them.

The symptoms

Above all we must say that to experience withdrawal symptoms is necessary to consume cannabis regularly and quit suddenly. Many people who use cannabis don’t feel the effects. But those who use cannabis everyday can eventually develop disorders that in very severe cases of abuse can become addiction.

Experts agree in describing an addiction as the continued use of a substance without caring about the negative effects that this may have on their lives, their jobs, their families and more.

Cannabis withdrawal symptoms have their peak moment during the first week after the sudden interruption of their consumption and the unpleasant effects can last up to two weeks.

The most common symptoms are:

Feeling of anger

Difficulty to sleep

Loss of appetite


Eagerness for cannabis


Abdominal pain

Some studies conclude that women are more prone to experience withdrawal symptoms and in bigger intensity than men.

Why does it happen?

We know that the potency of marijuana is related to the amount of THC it contains. The more THC it has, the greater the effect on our brain.

Consuming cannabis everyday means that our brain and body get used to a constant supply of THC. If the supply is suddenly stopped, the body needs certain time to adjust to the lack. It produces nasty physical and psychological symptoms.

But once our organism becomes accustomed to the lack of exogenous THC supply, the unpleasant symptoms disappear. However, some consumers may continue to experience these sensations for a longer time. But they are not real but the product of their suggestion.

According to numbers based on samples of confiscated cannabis, the strength of the marijuana has constantly increased. THC amount has risen from about 3.8 percent in the 1990s to 12.2 percent in 2014 and even much higher now with the extractions such as BHO.

The more THC a cannabis strain has, the stronger the effects are. This includes psychoactive effect and withdrawal symptoms. Therefore, the negative effects of sudden abstinence are higher now that they were in previous years.

How long does it take to get back to normal?

The bad mood has its peak in the first week after stopping consuming the substance and can last up to two weeks.

Even though the physical effects of cannabis withdrawal stop after the substance leaves our organism, the psychological symptoms could last longer. It is the consequence of the enormous power of suggestion of the mind.

Studies show that brain receptors known as cannabinoid 1 receptors begin to go back to normal after two days without cannabis, and they start to operate with absolute normality within four weeks after we quit consuming the herb.

Some consumers feel eagerness for cannabis after they quit consuming it, above all if they are used to consume the substance everyday and for a long period of time.

How to treat the cannabis withdrawal

The treatment can depend on other disorders such as psychiatric troubles and addiction to other drugs.

In fact, the majority of patients who attend these therapies are teenagers who are forced by their parents.

If you are a normal person who decides to stop using cannabis, it is normal to feel some anxiety for a few days and nothing more.

The most common treatments are:

Rehabilitation or detoxification centers. Most people don’t need them. But some persons with serious cannabis abuse disorder and mental psychiatric troubles could benefit from these types of treatments.

Outpatient therapy. In these programs the consumer works with a psychotherapist through daily sessions.

Support groups. As it happens in AA (anonymous alcoholics) the patient meets with other people who are feeling the same symptoms.

Avoid abusing the substance

Personally I remember a very unpleasant experience I had many years ago in Nairobi. After smoking a few puffs of a powerful sativa, I started to “fly” without being able to exercise any kind of control over my trip.

I had a very bad time to the point of being eight years without smoking. When I finally went back to consuming cannabis, I was very clear that I was getting genetics with little THC and a lot of CBD.

In short, everyone has to be aware of their limits and, of course, not abuse. And what is use and what is abuse? I am not a doctor and therefore I do not feel able to write some conclusions about it. But, of course, if you are one of those who smoke 20 joints a day, you are an abuser. It is not a moral issue; It is a health issue.

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